U of T Cities podcast episode one: the future of traffic
Mini-series launches with U of T experts on smarter traffic lights, hybrid vehicles and politics of the road
Issues driving public debate and city politics over the past year are heating up as Toronto voters get ready to head to the polls.
Their decisions on October 27 will shape the city's development over the coming years.
Over the next four weeks, U of T News will feature a mini-series of podcasts introducing experts from geography, architecture, engineering and more as they explain their boundary-breaking research with the aim of providing voters – and anyone interested in the future of cities – with a snapshot of what Toronto and other global cities could look like just a few years from now.
The first episode is all about traffic. You can download or stream the full episode here:
PART ONE: SMARTER TRAFFIC LIGHTS
In the first part of this episode, post-doctoral researcher Samah El-Tantawy (pictured above) explains her work with Professor Baher Abdulhai as they develop a system known as MARLIN-ATSC (Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning for Integrated Network of Adaptive Traffic Signal Controllers).
The name sounds complicated but it's really a simple idea: making traffic lights artifically intelligent.
She says traffic simulations have shown that MARLIN can reduce traffic wait times by 40 per cent – and it's just about to be tested on the roads of Burlington.
Last year, El-Tantawy was featured in U of T News for winning an international award for her work on MARLIN. (Read more about El-Tantawy's 'smarter traffic lights' research)
PART TWO: A NEW KIND OF RIDE ON TORONTO STREETS
Engineering alumnus Phil Lam and his team at Wheelspan want to make travel on Toronto roads greener, safer and more efficient.
Their innovative human-electric hybrid vehicle and their company are both in development at the Impact Centre, one of U of T's entrepreneurship hubs specifically designed for entrepreneurs focused on the physical sciences. (Read more about the Impact Centre)
Lam explains the urban needs driving the mission of Sojourn Labs (formerly Wheelspan).
PART THREE: PUTTING THE POLITICS OF TRAFFIC INTO STUDENTS' HANDS
Professor Zack Taylor teaches urban issues and local government at University of Toronto's Scarborough campus.
He's interested in political questions and behaviour at a local scale –and he's inviting his students to join him in his work.
This semester, Taylor is leading a fourth-year seminar course all about the Toronto election.
In this episode, he explains why he's looking to students to help fill the gaps of scholarship on city elections and what it means for young researchers to dig in.
This podcast features music made available on the Free Music Archive from artists Cheese N Pot-C, Tha Silent Partner and The Custodian of Records.